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Silent Voices : Public Opinion and Political Participation in America - Adam J. Berinsky

Silent Voices

Public Opinion and Political Participation in America

Paperback

Published: 8th January 2006
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Over the past century, opinion polls have come to pervade American politics. Despite their shortcomings, the notion prevails that polls broadly represent public sentiment. But do they? In "Silent Voices," Adam Berinsky presents a provocative argument that the very process of collecting information on public preferences through surveys may bias our picture of those preferences. In particular, he focuses on the many respondents who say they "don't know" when asked for their views on the political issues of the day.

Using opinion poll data collected over the past forty years, Berinsky takes an increasingly technical area of research--public opinion--and synthesizes recent findings in a coherent and accessible manner while building on this with his own findings. He moves from an in-depth treatment of how citizens approach the survey interview, to a discussion of how individuals come to form and then to express opinions on political matters in the context of such an interview, to an examination of public opinion in three broad policy areas--race, social welfare, and war. He concludes that "don't know" responses are often the result of a systematic process that serves to exclude particular interests from the realm of recognized public opinion. Thus surveys may then echo the inegalitarian shortcomings of other forms of political participation and even introduce new problems altogether.

"The book is well written, the analysis thoroughly done, and the argument clearly presented."--Thomas M. Carsey, Perspectives on Political Science "Berinsky argues that polls sometimes fail to represent public opinion when the real preferences of those respondents who select the 'don't know' category for a question are excluded from the results. This important book explores several issues regarding this problem in survey research... A useful supplement in advanced undergraduate and graduate courses on research methods."--Choice

Figuresp. ix
Tablesp. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Introduction Representation, Public Opinion, and the Voice of the Peoplep. 1
Opinion Polling and the Silencing of Political Voicep. 14
The Search for the Voice of the People: Considering the Unspokenp. 36
The Dynamics of Racial Policy Opinion, 1972-1994p. 51
Social Welfare Policy and Public Opinion, 1972-1996p. 84
The Changing Context of Public Opinion Concerning the Vietnam War, 1964-1972p. 105
Conclusion Public Opinion and Political Voicep. 127
Appendix To Chapter 3p. 145
Appendix To Chapter 4p. 169
Appendix To Chapter 5p. 176
Refernecesp. 185
Indexp. 195
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691123783
ISBN-10: 0691123780
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 240
Published: 8th January 2006
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.57 x 17.12  x 1.22
Weight (kg): 0.34